Audit Enforcement Procedure
In June 2016, the FRC became the 'competent authority' for audit in the UK under new legislation which came into force following the EU Audit Regulation and Directive.
Enforcement action is taken under the FRC’s Audit Enforcement Procedure (AEP) which was effective from January 2021 and reissued in March 2021. On this page we set out:
Scope of the AEP
The FRC will investigate matters relating to the audits of:
- Public Interest Entities (PIEs), being listed entities, credit institutions and insurance undertakings;
- AIM-listed companies with a market capitalisation in excess of €200m;
- Lloyds Syndicates.
Other audit-related investigations have been delegated to the Recognised Supervisory Bodies (RSBs), such as the Institute of Chartered Accountants for England and Wales
, but the FRC can reclaim an investigation from an RSB if it chooses to do so.
Outline of the AEP process
There are up to four stages of an AEP investigation:
Initial enquiries: these are conducted by the Case Examiner and may result in a referral to the FRC’s Board or Conduct Committee to decide whether the matter should be referred to the FRC’s Executive Counsel to investigate. The Conduct Committee will also decide whether the fact of an investigation is to be published.
Investigation: the Executive Counsel’s investigation will be conducted by an in-house team of lawyers and forensic accountants, culminating in an Investigation Report. At the conclusion of the investigation, the Executive Counsel will issue a Decision Notice which will set out any Adverse Findings and a proposed sanction. If the findings and sanction are accepted by the investigation subject, the process will end there. Publication of sanctions issued is mandatory.
Enforcement Committee: if the matter is not concluded at the Investigation stage, then it may be referred to the Enforcement Committee to reach a decision on the findings and sanction. In some circumstances a case can go direct from the investigation stage to a Tribunal.
Tribunal: where a case has been referred directly to a Tribunal (circumventing the Enforcement Committee) or referred from the Enforcement Committee in cases where a Respondent rejects parts or all of the Enforcement Committee’s Decision Notice, a Tribunal will hear the case. It should be noted that a Tribunal is not bound by any earlier Decision Notices (unless parties agree otherwise). A Tribunal will announce its findings and, where an Adverse Finding has been made, it may impose a sanction against the Respondent following any further evidence and submissions.